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Holiday Season Helps Retailers

Helped by the official start of the Christmas selling season in the days following Thanksgiving, same-store retail sales climbed 4.4 percent during the fourth and final week of November, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

But the last-minute bump wasn't enough to help sales figures for the entire month, as November finished up 3.9 percent modestly behind plan and a targeted goal of 4.1 percent.

“The fourth week of November included the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving, among the busiest and most closely watched shopping days of the year,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “The final burst of strength was sufficient to enable many stores to improve their overall monthly average, although the lift was relatively slight given the shortness of the time remaining.”

And while business was sturdy, the analyst noted, it was driven by early promoting. “Extended shopping hours, steep discounts, coupons and free gift card giveaways attracted customers,” she stated.

Identifying top-selling categories, Levis said, “Retailers reported strong turnover in electronics, including computers, DVD players, iPods, flat-screen TVs, video games and digital cameras. Cashmere sweaters, handbags, jewelry and toys were also on the best-sellers list.”

Looking ahead to the final and crucial weeks of the holiday selling season, Levis said, “Early indications for December are for guarded optimism, with same-store gains projected to be up 4.1 percent year over year, and up 0.5 percent versus November,” with a final target to be finalized later.

Johnson Redbook Index
Fourth week of November

Week ended 11/5 11/12 11/19 11/26 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.4 2.7 3.0 3.8 3.2 3.3
Discounters 4.8 4.0 4.1 4.8 4.4 4.6
Redbook Average 4.2 3.5 3.6 4.4 3.9 4.1

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